September 17, 2021

Grizzly Bear Project

SRLLP and Simpcw First Nation have received funding from Natural Resources Canada through the Terrestrial Cumulative Effects Initiative (TCEI).  The TCEI is an accommodation measure introduced in the Trans Mountain Expansions Project’s (TMX) Crown Consultation and Accommodation Report through the Government of Canada, to strengthen and improve the understanding of Indigenous concerns regarding cumulative environmental effects on the development of the land. The focus of the TCEI process is on restoring traditional data information and knowledge specific to Indigenous groups through Indigenous-led projects and studies, particularly for Nations directly affected by the TMX project.

Grizzly Bears are a blue-listed species in British Columbia and the last population estimate of the species (2012) in the Wells Gray area estimated 317 individual bears. Based on modeling and expert opinion, the population density is thought to be 24 to 28 grizzly bears per 1000 km2.

This project, which will run from 2021 to 2024, will contribute to a greater understanding of traditional knowledge surrounding grizzly habitat and population dynamics, and the cumulative effects of development on the land from TMX. Hair-snag traps and opportunistic samples from rub trees will be collected and submitted to Wildlife Genetics International in Nelson, BC, for analysis to identify species (e.g., grizzly vs. black bear), individual bears, and gender. Data collected will provide an assessment of the population dynamics within Wells Gray Provincial Park and inform long-term monitoring trends for population management objectives within Simpcwúl’ecw. Additionally, the Project team hopes to work with the Neqweyqwelsten School in Chu Chua, BC, to engage with students on educational opportunities such as planting bear scat collected from the study area, and seeing what plant species grow.

The grizzly bear project research team includes project managers, biologists, technicians, and wildlife monitors from Simpcw Natural Resources Department, Estsék’ Environmental Services LLP, Simpcw Resources LLP, Triton Environmental Consultants Ltd., and Simpcw community members. With COVID-19 still a concern, the project will have a virtual information-sharing platform to hear from Simpwemc who want to share their stories and knowledge of grizzlies in Simpcwúl’ecw.

The team looks forward to working collaboratively with BC Parks, and Simpcw community members as well as other interested stakeholders. This project has been initiated to support Simpcw environmental, cultural, socio-economic priorities, and provide meaningful active Simpcw engagement over the full lifecycle of Trans Mountain

Expansions Project (TMX).